Abraham Ten Broeck
Stefan Bielinski

Abraham Ten Broeck was born in May 1734 - the eldest surviving son but a younger child of the large family of city father Dirck Ten Broeck and his wife Margarita Cuyler Ten Broeck.

Young Abraham was sent to New York City to learn business in the house of his brother-in-law, Philip Livingston. Following the death of his father in 1751, the seventeen-year-old was sent to Europe to learn about international business and to absorb continental culture. By 1752, he had returned home to stay - residing in the family home at Market and Columbia Streets with his widowed mother.

Capitalized by family assets, he prospered in trade - securing wood from upriver forests and cutting it into boards for export while importing a range of items to be sold from his riverside store. By the mid-1760s, he was one of the city's wealthiest businessmen with his Albany holdings including additional lots and buildings, storehouses, stables, a lumber yard, and the new dock on the north side of the city.

In 1759, Abraham Ten Broeck was elected to the Albany city council from the third ward. He served as assistant and alderman for many years even though he was elected to represent Rensselaerswyck in the provincial Assembly in 1760. He was re-elected and served until the Assembly was dissolved in 1775. During that time, he gained a reputation as a supporter of American rights over British prerogatives!

Ten Broeck at 30 by Thomas Mc Ilworth In 1763, he married Elizabeth Van Rensselaer - the only daughter of the Patroon. Their family of five children (born between 1765 and 1779) was smaller than most - perhaps due to the ages of the parents. All were baptized in the Albany Dutch church where Abraham and Elizabeth were prominent members.

Following the untimely death of his young brother-in-law in 1769, Abraham Ten Broeck was named CO-administrator of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck. He performed that service until his nephew, the young Patroon, came of age in 1784. Manor records show Ten Broeck was ambitious in signing up new tenants - who included overflow people from established early Albany families and a large number of recent émigrés as well. Many of these new leaseholders settled in the riverside area between the northern city line and the Manor House that came to be called "Watervliet."

Businessman, landlord, and local leader, and provincial representative, Abraham Ten Broeck also was an active leader in the provincial militia - holding commissions since the 1750s. Just forty at the outbreak of hostilities in 1775, he was colonel of the Albany County Militia that became the home-based military agent of the Crusade for American Liberties. He ultimately held the rank of Brigadier General of the New York State Militia.

Provincial Congresses the poilitical revolution

Military career military service during the Revolution

In 1779, he was appointed mayor of Albany on the death of John Barclay. He served until 1783 and again, following the death of Abraham Yates, Jr., from 1796 to 1798.

post war career post-war career to follow

For thirty years, Abraham Ten Broeck was a prominent resident of Albany's third ward. In 1788, his townhouse was assessed on a par with Schuyler and Yates Mansions - the three highest in the city. In 1790, that home was attended by twelve servants. Following the destruction of his Market Street home in the fire of 1797, he began building a grand mansion on Arbor Hill - which then was technically out of the city and a part of Watervliet. His family moved there in 1798. In 1800, his household was configured on the Watervliet census and still included ten slaves. For all of that time, he also owned substantial properties both in and out of the city.

He filed a will in March 1809. It left his substantial estate to his wife and then to their children and grandchildren.

Albany city father Abraham Ten Broeck died on January 19, 1810 in his seventy-sixth year. His widow died in 1813.



the people of colonial Albany The life of Abraham Ten Broeck is CAP biography number 6. This profile is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. This important figure deserves a substantial biographical consideration. Until then, you might begin by following the historiography recommended in his Wikipedia article.

Siblings: Abraham Ten Broeck's mother gave birth to twelve children between 1715 and 1738. The marriages of Abraham and six of his siblings further connected the fourth generation of this one-time New Netherland family in regional circles.

Copy of a portrait by Thomas Mc Ilworth dated 1763 from the collection of the Albany Institute of History and Art. Also described in Ona Curran's Thomas McIlworth.

This nifty obituary was printed in an Albany newspaper:

An older General Abraham Ten Broeck Died, Friday, Jan. 19, Gen. Abraham Ten Broeck, in the 76th year of his age. He was conspicuous for the ardent love of his country, in whose service he devoted his best days. His remains were buried with military honors, and attended by a large and very general concourse of his fellow-citizens.

He was descended from one of the most respectable Dutch families of the colony of New York. His father was for many years recorder and then mayor of the city of Albany. He commenced business in the city as a merchant, and was married in 1753 to the only sister of the Patroon, who survived him. He was called early into public life; was for many years a member of assembly under the colonial government, and at the commencement of the American war he entered upon the trying scenes of the revolution, with distinguished ardor and patriotism. He was colonel of the militia, member of the provincial congress of 1775, delegate to the state convention in 1776, of which he was made president. Early in the contest, he was appointed brigadier-general of the militia, by which appointment he had then under his command all the militia from Dutchess and Ulster, to the northern and western extremities of the state; and he rendered in that capacity zealous and meritorious services in the memorable campaign of 1777. He was a member in the state senate, mayor of the city, first judge of the court of common pleas, and president of the Albany Bank.

In all his various offices and public trusts, he acquitted himself well, without stain and without reproach. Such a series of meritorious services entitle this venerable patriot to live long in the recollection of his grateful country. His virtues in private life rose to a level with the excellence of his public character. He was a firm and devout believer in the gospel of our blessed Redeemer, and one of the brightest ornaments of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in this city. He closed a well-spent life in humble resignation, and retaining his senses to the last, died under the cheering Consolations of the gospel.

This fair-quality copy of an un-attributed and undated portrait of Abraham Ten Broeck hangs at Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany. We seek defining information on this legendary image.

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first posted 9/5/01; last revised 2/28/16